Montreal police officer arrested in bookmaking scheme bust
Published Thursday, January 15, 2015 7:49AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 16, 2015 4:58PM EST
A Montreal police sergeant is one of 12 people who have been arrested in connection with an alleged illegal gambling ring.
The takedown spanned four cities and involved more than 150 police officers.
Authorities say the alleged bookmaking operation has links to organized crime.
Andre Thibodeau, 49, was a sergeant based out of Montreal police’s 33rd precinct in the Plateau–Mont Royal borough.
Police allege Thibodeau engaged in illegal activities while on the job. He was suspended without pay.
Police say they started investigating Thibodeau after colleagues began questioning the company he was keeping.
The alleged head of the ring was also arrested, Natalino Paccione. Paccione was previously arrested as part of Project Colisee.
The RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Surete du Quebec, Laval, Quebec City and Blainville police municipal police departments all contributed to the operation, carried out Thursday.
The suspects face a variety of charges, including book making and conspiracy, and Thibodeau is also facing gangsterism charges.
Montreal police spokesman Ian Lafreniere said it's been tough for the force to come to grips with the accusations against one of their own.
“It’s a split feeling. First of all, you’re never happy [about] that, because as a police officer you’re proud of the uniform, and you feel dirty that someone wearing the uniform [did] that. On the opposite, I’m about that the Omerta, what people think, that police officers cover [for] each other when they do something stupid. This is not the case. It’s because of police information that we got through,” he said.
Police said some of the largest bets were for more than $100,000, but they can’t say how big the ring was yet, as the investigation is ongoing.
Arrested Thursday in connection with the illegal bookmaking ring were:
THIBODEAU, Andre (49 ans)
PACCIONE, Natalino (60 ans)
BOULET, Jean-Maxime (27 ans)
BISHARA, Marc (42 ans)
SIV, Vanny (47 ans)
GOMATOS, Athanasios (32 ans)
POON, Sai Ming (30 ans)
BUINNO, Salvatore (59 ans)
PALMIERO, Vincenzo (31 ans)
Three other people were arrested without a warrant.